Joe Henry’s 115th Dream
Featuring Marc Ribot & Jason Moran
Joe Henry is the moral compass of modern American folk music—a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and producer whose eclectic erudition, ruminative wit, and fondness for peccadillos and parables have made him a great connector and creative catalyst as well as a fountain of song.
As a Midwestern newcomer to Brooklyn in the eighties, Henry channeled his folk heroes through his own rarified lens, catching the ear of T-Bone Burnett, who produced the early alt-country classic Shuffletown. Roving from there to jazz, blues, rock, and elsewhere, Henry built a capacious, fine-grained yet myth-size vision of American music, both as an artist—he once had Marc Ribot, Ornette Coleman, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Brad Mehldau on the same album—and as a producer for Allen Toussaint, Solomon Burke, and many others.
In 2015, Henry invited the inimitable guitarist Ribot to plumb the riches of his catalog with him at Big Ears. They return in a band built around jazz pianist Jason Moran, one of the marquee names in the genre closest to Henry’s heart, and rounded out by the 115th Dream ensemble, which includes the rhythm section of David Piltch and Jay Bellerose and the multi-instrumentalist Levon Henry, the bandleader’s son. They’ll drink deeply from Henry’s discography, including The Gospel According to Water, a reckoning with a cancer diagnosis from 2019. Slate’s Ann Powers said it was “a whole new hymnal” that made the case for the ongoing relevance of the LP, whose demise will be overstated for as long as Joe Henry is here.